Parkash Singh Badal, the stalwart of Punjab politics, passed away on Tuesday after brief illness. The patriarch of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and five-time chief minister of Punjab was admitted to a private hospital in Mohali after he complained of chest pain. He was 95.
Badal started his political career in 1947 when he became the Sarpanch of his village. In 1957, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Punjab for the first time on a SAD ticket. In total, he was elected to the Punjab Assembly 10 times in his career. He was the president of the party from 1995 to 2008.
Over his years in the government of Punjab, Badal served as minister for Panchayati Raj, community development, animal husbandry, dairying, and fisheries. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly in 1972, 1980 and 2002. He also served as a union minister of agriculture and irrigation in the government of Morarji Desai in 1977. In 1992, under his leadership, the Akalis orchestrated a boycott of the state Assembly elections.
Like several other political leaders, Badal was imprisoned during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1976. He was also sent to jail in the 1980s during the Sikh agitation demanding greater autonomy. He met the same fate over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link issue. During his political career, Congress and its leader Amarinder Singh remained his main rivals.
Ever since the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Akalis were close to the party. From time to time, Parkash Singh Badal and BJP leaders forged alliances in Punjab and at the Centre to form governments. However, during the farmers' protest of 2021, Akalis withdrew support from the BJP at the centre.
In 2007 Punjab Assembly elections, the SAD-BJP coalition won a comfortable majority and Badal became the chief minister. The alliance retained power in 2012 as well and Parkash Singh Badal retained his position as the chief minister. He became the first person to serve two consecutive terms as CM of Punjab.
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In a unique coincidence, he became the youngest and the oldest chief minister of a state. In 2008, he stepped down as the party president and was succeeded by his son Sukhbir.
After losing power to the Congress in 2017, Badal was seen less and less in active politics.